These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check - We Are The Mighty
Articles

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

A series of troubling reports have been coming out from the U.S. military asserting that decades of U.S. military supremacy has eroded in the face of a resurgent Russia and a booming China, but the US Navy has conceived of some new technologies that they say can restore the U.S. to its former glory.


“We face competitors who are challenging us in the open ocean, and we need to balance investment in those capabilities— advanced capabilities — in a way that we haven’t had to do for quite a while,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement.

As it is, Russia and China can effectively deny US forces access to militarily significant areas, like Eastern Europe and the South China Sea.

In response, the U.S. Navy ran a “rigorous program of analytics and wargaming,”  and came up with a bold new strategy to turn the tables on these rising powers—distributed lethality.

Simply put, distributed lethality means giving every ship, from the smallest to the biggest, a range of advanced weapons that can destroy targets dependably, accurately, and without interference from enemy missile defense.

In the future, ships “will be equipped with the weapons and advanced capabilities that it will need to deter any aggressor and to make any aggressor who isn’t deterred very much regret their decision to take us on,” Carter said.

In the slides below, see the new munitions the US Navy wants to put aggressive authoritarian regimes in check.

The Block IV anti-ship Tomahawk missile.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
defenseimagery.mil

A Tomahawk missile launches from the USS Farragut.

The Tomahawk land attack missile (TLAM) missile has been around since the 70s, and has seen use in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, but a new anti-ship version of the missile with a 1,000 nautical mile range could be deployed onboard Navy ships of all types within a decade.

In February of 2015, the USS Kidd fired a Block IV anti-ship Tomahawk variant that successfully hit a moving target at sea from long range, immediately drawing praise from top naval brass.

“This is potentially a game changing capability for not a lot of cost. It’s a 1000 mile anti-ship cruise missile,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work after the successful testing. “It can be used by practically by our entire surface and submarine fleet,” Work added.

Length: 20 feet long

Weight: 3,000 pounds

Range: 1,000 nautical miles

Speed: subsonic

Navy plans to acquire: 4,000 Tomahawks over five years for $2 billion

Source

Watch the successful test of the newly improved Tomahawk missile. Keep in mind that to keep the cost of testing down, the missile was not meant to sink the ship.

“[Along with] our surface brothers and sisters, we got to get the long-range missile so we’re not held out by that A2/AD (anti-access/area denial) bubble and we have the stick to hit inside,” said Vice Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander, Naval Submarine Forces said.

The SM-6 Dual I

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
USS Dewey test-fires the Navy’s first SM-6 missiles, March 31. 2011 | U.S. Navy

The SM-6 interceptor may be the first missile capable of intercepting both ballistic missiles, which fall from the sky, and cruise missiles, which fly along the surface of earth, sometimes even snaking through mountains.

In the past, these two distinct types of missiles, ballistic and cruise, have required different missiles to stop them, but the SM-6’s advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities make it a useful defense against both types.

Length: 21 feet long

Weight: 3,300 pounds

Range: unspecified

Speed: supersonic

Role in 2017 budget plan: $501 million to acquire 125 SM-6s

Source

Watch the SM-6 intercept both a ballistic and a cruise missile.

“It’s the only missile now out there that has what we call dual-mission capability,” Raytheon program manager Mike Campisi told BreakingDefense.com.

“That allows the combatant commanders to have choice. Instead of having separate boutique missiles for each mission… they can put SM-6s,” Campisi continued.

AGM-158C LRASM (Long Range Anti-Ship Missile)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
U.S. Navy

An anti-ship missile LRASM in front of a F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet on 12 August 2015 .

The LRASM is a precision-guided anti-ship standoff missile with a penetrator and blast fragmentation warhead. The Navy wants the LRASM to replace the harpoon, which has been in service since 1977, and is easily foiled by today’s modern defenses.

The LRASM on the other hand, is stealthy due to it’s angular shape, making it hard for enemies to detect.  Also, in the case of electronic interference, the LRASM has advanced anti-jamming GPS guidance.

Additionally, the LRASM can be fired from ships and planes, like the F/A-18 pictured above.

Length: 14 feet

Weight: 2,100 pounds

Range: more than 200 miles

Speed: high subsonic

Navy plans to acquire: $30 million for the first 10 missiles

Source

For an in depth rendering of how the LRASM works, watch the video from Lockheed Martin below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvHlW1h_0XQ

Humor

This famous bridge adds an Army LMTV to its list of kills

Right off North Carolina Highway 147 in Durham sits a relic of older railroad overpass regulations. The 78-year old bridge that runs along South Gregson Street has a clearance of only 11 feet 8 inches. It has become known across the internet as “The Can-Opener Bridge” because of the astounding number of overconfident truck drivers who think they can squeeze their vehicle under it. Recently, the bridge claimed its 130th victim: an Army LMTV.


Local truck drivers know to avoid the overpass, so nearly every vehicle that gets clipped is either a rental or from out-of-state. The costs of raising the railroad tracks would be astronomical and the city’s main sewer line runs underneath, meaning lowering the road is impossible.

Thankfully, to date, there have been no fatalities and only three minor injuries. The city of Durham is content to plaster the area with a ridiculous amount of warnings to drivers, including a traffic light and gigantic, flashing sign that triggers if a height sensor is tripped. But all of these cautions don’t deter idiots drivers who aren’t willing to take a short detour.

To be completely honest, I don’t think they even want to fix it because it’s too funny.

 

So, what’s a city to do that has a hilarious problem that only affects morons who obviously don’t know their vehicle and fail to acknowledge the many signals? Put up a 24/7 webcam and create an internet attraction, obviously!

The most recent addition to the bridge’s long list of victims is a U.S. Army LMTV from an undisclosed unit. Many sites have erroneously claimed that the truck was carrying some “top secret device that needed to be covered” when it hit the bridge. In actuality, it was just a regular ol’ weapon mount that’s kept covered as not to freak out civilians. The driver of the vehicle has also not been named, but the Private (or soon-to-be-Private) is definitely never going to live this one down.

 

 
Articles

The Confederate sub that killed its own sailors and namesake

Silently gliding through frigid February water, the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley stayed just under the surface as it approached its prey. As it breached the surface, sailors aboard the Housatonic, a Union sloop-of-war, may have thought it looked like a whale coming up for air. By the time the Union sailors realized their mistake, it was too late.

Using a “spar torpedo” — an explosive spear that the sub rammed into its target — the Hunley blew a hole in the Housatonic, which sank beneath the Atlantic in less than five minutes. Most of its sailors survived, with just five out of a 155-man crew lost in the Feb. 17, 1864, attack near Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. But the crew of the sub that fired the shot actually fared worse. The Hunley never returned to port, with all eight mariners of the Confederate Navy lost for 131 years. 

The Hunley was the first submarine to see combat in America, even though it was deadliest to its own crew. Built in 1863 to run Union blockades of Confederate ports, the Hunley’s only successful combat action was against the Housatonic, causing those five casualties. But during its brief career in the Confederate Navy, the Hunley killed 21 Confederate sailors, including the eight lost in the attack on the Housatonic.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
The H.L. Hunley’s early nicknames included “Fish Boat” and “Fish Torpedo Boat” before it was named after its financial benefactor. Early sketches reveal that engineers stuck to a simple design for the Confederate Navy submarine. Photo courtesy of the Hunley Museum.

Originally built by James McClintock and Baxter Watson, the Hunley took its name from a decidedly unromantic source: the man who funded the whole thing, Horace L. Hunley, a wealthy Confederate lawyer and merchant. Upon successful demonstration, the submarine was sent immediately to use against the Union blockade off the coast of South Carolina in August 1863. 

However, the Hunley quickly built a reputation as a death trap. It sank for the first time on Aug. 29, before ever leaving its moorings at the dock, killing five of its eight crewmen. John Payne, the Confederate captain who commanded the sub that day, was among the survivors.  

The ship was raised, but it sank again two months later, on Oct. 15. A demonstration dive had been arranged to allow the Hunley to submerge under another ship, the Confederate bomber CSS Indian Chief.

It got the demonstration half right.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Conservation work by nautical archaeologists and metal specialists assists scientists in understanding how the H.L. Hunley sank. To do that, concretions from the hull had to be carefully removed. Photo courtesy of the Hunley Museum.

The Hunley submerged and went below the other vessel. It just never came up. Again, salvagers pulled it out of the water.

According to the Hunley Museum website, the dive ended in terrifying final moments for those on board. “Rescuers reported the forward ballast tank valve had been left open, allowing the submarine to fill with water,” according to museum history. “The sub’s keel weights had been partially loosened, which suggested the crew realized they were in danger, but not in time to save themselves.”

All eight crewmen were killed, including Horace Hunley, who had captained the submarine himself for the demonstration, making the Hunley possibly the only ship in naval history to kill its namesake.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Horace L. Hunley, a Southern lawyer and merchant who financed the construction of the H.L. Hunley. Hunley volunteered as a crew member on an ill-fated test of the submarine, leading to his death aboard the ship named for him. Photo courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

The Feb. 17, 1864, sinking of the Housatonic was the Hunley’s first and last combat engagement. But as the Hunley sank to the floor of the Atlantic for the third and final time, it did so as the first submarine in history to successfully destroy another vessel. 

Missing for 131 years, the Hunley’s final sinking was a mystery many tried to solve, as both civilians and government searchers looked for the wreck. In 1995, a team from the National Underwater and Marine Agency, led by legendary adventure novelist Clive Cussler, discovered it. Inside, artifacts revealed a time capsule of life as a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. 

The Hunley’s captain, Lt. George E. Dixon, and the rest of the men aboard, volunteered for the mission. When the Hunley was found, the body of each man was found at his station, making identification of the remains easier. Sediment in the submarine left their bodies remarkably preserved, with one man’s brain still intact. 

Hunley’s artifacts ran the gamut of the daily life of a Confederate soldier, with random buttons from different campaigns, differently colored clothes and boots, and even ornate jewelry. Notably, salvagers found a gold coin with a bullet indentation that belonged to Dixon. It had stopped a bullet while in his pocket at the Battle of Shiloh. Dixon appeared to have engraved the coin with the date of the battle, “April 6th 1862. My life Preserver G. E. D.”

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Lt. George E. Dixon was found to be carrying an ostentatious display of wealth — his gold ring, which had a Kentucky full-carat cluster of nine diamonds. Photo courtesy of the Hunley Museum.

Researchers continue to debate why the Hunley sank. The sub was found with damage to much of it, including the hull, propellers, and conning tower, as well as oddities like the forward conning tower being unlatched. 

Was the Hunley too close to the torpedo explosion? Was it trapped by the tides, did it blindly collide with something, or did the Housatonic’s sailors get off a lucky shot? Researchers and nautical archaeologists at the Friends of the Hunley hope to answer these questions with more research. 

The remains of the Hunley’s final crew were buried in April 2004 at Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina, resting next to the 13 other crew killed during the previous accidents involving the submarine.


This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

Feature image: Photo of the 1863 painting by Conrad W. Chapman, courtesy of the American Civil War Museum.

Articles

This is mass suicide mission the Soviets wanted to use on the US Navy in WWIII

In 2013, a former Soviet Navy officer named Maksim Y. Tokarev penned an article in the U.S. Naval War College Review called Kamikazes: The Soviet Legacy. In the piece, Tokarev details how the USSR intended to use its Tupolev-22M Backfire bombers, a plan that had not been previously released.


The Soviets looked at Japanese tactics in WWII. They recognized Japan still had a fleet of capital ships but by then the nature of naval warfare had changed. Massive U.S. carriers became roving air forces in the oceans. Since much of their own naval and air forces were at the bottom of the Pacific, there was no way for the Japanese to effectively engage the U.S. forces.

The best way they could devise was a strategy as old as aviation in warfare: conduct the earliest possible strike to inflict such damage that the opponent is unable to launch its air forces. By 1944, the Japanese began these asymmetrical suicide attacks, widely known as kamikaze.

By the late 70s and early 80s, the Soviets were unable to create a carrier fleet to compete with the U.S. economically and politically. But they still had to create a strategy to deter U.S. Navy carrier task forces. So their idea was still centered around air combat, but their forces would be land-based, close to Soviet coastlines.

The tactics weren’t intended to look like kamikaze attacks, but in practice, not many Soviet sailors and airmen would be returning from these missions.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Space. The best place for a Russian sailor to be posted.

The USSR’s naval air force planned to send a fleet of 100 bombers armed with anti-ship missiles against any US aircraft carrier battle group, fully expecting to lose half of them to enemy action. This number would increase by 100 for every carrier. In their defense, these were calculated losses. Soviet planners wanted to slow the reactions of the task force’s entire air-defense system, to produce a “golden time” to launch a calculated missile strike.

Soviet planners learned U.S. interceptor crews were dependent on the opinions of air controllers, so the planners needed to find a way to fool those officers, to overload their sensors or relax their sense of danger by making attacking forces appear to be decoys, which were in reality full, combat-ready strikes.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

In contrast, Soviet naval air forces did not trust the targeting information they got from satellites or other intelligence methods. To Soviet pilots, the most reliable source was the direct-tracking ship, a ship shadowing the U.S. fleet constantly sending back coordinates just in case war breaks out.

That’s not all. If war did break out, the shadowing ship was toast, and her captain knew it. So he was prepared to take appropriate action. Tokarev writes:

“At the moment of war declaration or when specifically ordered, after sending the carrier’s position by radio, he would shell the carrier’s flight deck with gunfire…He could even ram the carrier, and some trained their ship’s companies to do so.”

The attacking planes would launch missiles from maximum range to distract the American crews while two reconnaissance TU-16 Badgers would attempt to breach into the center of the task force formation to find carriers visually, their only task to send its exact position to the entire division by radio.

No one in the Badger crews counted on a return flight. They were very aware they were flying a suicide mission.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

“Why we are not getting a full tank of fuel, Vasily?”

Once the carrier was located, the main attack group would launch their missiles. Two to three strike groups would approach from different directions and at different altitudes. The main launch had to be made simultaneously by all planes.

The “golden time” opening for the missiles was just “one minute for best results, no more than two minutes for satisfactory ones. If the timing became wider in an exercise, the entire main attack was considered unsuccessful.”

The Soviets calculated twelve hits by conventional missiles would be needed to sink a carrier but single nuclear missile hit could produce the same result.

Because of the difficulty and accident rates associated with bailing out of, abandoning, or even in-flight refueling many Soviet-designed bombers, Soviet Naval Air Force bomber crews considered themselves suicide bombers anyway (even without an enemy).  Officers on guided-missile ships assisting in a Soviet air raid counted on surviving a battle against a U.S. Navy carrier air wing for twenty or thirty minutes, tops.

All in all, the expected loss rate was 50 percent of a full strike, whether or not the objective number of U.S. or NATO warships were successfully hit.

Articles

11 weapons from pop culture we could totally use right now

DARPA does a great job of designing new and exciting weapons for the military. But here are 11 weapons from movies and video games that the U.S. fighting forces would like to see rolling out of a DARPA lab soon.


1. Iron Man’s shoulder-mounted guns

Iron Man’s shoulder-mounted guns each have six barrels filled with rounds that can curve in flight and are linked up to a targeting system that can differentiate between friend, foe, and civilian. Basically, every infantryman in urban combat could walk through a city slaying bad guys and accepting the praise of grateful survivors.

Of course, if the weapons were actually mounted on an Iron Man suit that would be even better.

2. Noisy cricket

Sure, it’s small and causes a lot of collateral damage. But, it packs a huge punch in a tiny fist. It could be used for two purposes. First, troops assigned to public positions like embassy guard could conceal the weapons on their body, allowing them to appear lightly armed while they secretly have direct fire artillery in their pockets. Second, it could be used as a breaching tool.

3. Lawgiver Pistol

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Photos: Youtube

Capable of firing everything from normal rounds to grenades to nonlethal munitions, the Lawgiver pistol is part of why Dredd is such a badass. For soldiers in the field, this would provide a wide variety of force options in a very small package. Also, they have a very strong anti-theft mechanism.

In the cons column, it has to be hard to safely run ranges with weapons like this.

4. Sonic Shotgun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8deYjcgVgm8feature=youtu.bet=1m33s

One of the most effective nonlethal weapons on this list, the sonic shotgun can hurl bad guys a dozen feet back, charges quickly, and is apparently easy to aim from the hip.

5. Laser Rifles

Pick your brand (Star Wars, Halo, whatever), laser rifles would provide most of the capabilities of standard rifles, plus they would melt right through enemy armor. Just don’t give us the ones that Stormtroopers use. They are way too inaccurate.

6. Phaser

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Photo: flickr.com/Ryan Somma

It’s like a laser rifle, but you can choose “stun” and “disintegrate” as firing modes.

7. Cerebral Bore

The cerebral bore is not only a rifle with homing rounds, it also marks enemies in hiding and its rounds make their way through enemy flesh, seeking out the brain and exploding within it.

8. Mjolnir (but a gun)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou4yoD-9wL8

Thor’s mighty hammer gives the ability to fly, which would be great. More importantly though, it can only be lifted by the worthy. That would mean that when friendly positions are overrun, weapons that are abandoned couldn’t be turned around and used against the original owners.

9. ZF-1

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Photo: Youtube.com

Like the Lawgiver pistol, the ZF-1 allows its users to select between a wide range of munitions including missiles and nets. The ZF-1 is larger since it’s a rifle/flamethrower, but soldiers will likely find a way to carry the extra weight in exchange for gaining the ability to shoot flames and darts when necessary.

10. Lightsabers

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

Not for the purpose you think. It’s unlikely troops could be properly trained to handle lightsabers well enough to fight with them and they definitely couldn’t deflect bullets with them. However, the sabers could be used by anti-tank teams to crack into enemy armor as well as by engineers to cut through absolutely any enemy defenses. The safety training Powerpoint for these would be hell though.

Runner up for these purposes: Wolverine’s claws. They’re even more portable than a lightsaber and would be nearly impossible to lose, but soldiers without genetic healing mutations would bleed just, all the time.

11. Plasmids

From the hit video game Bioshock, plasmids give the user the ability to fire flames from their hands, suck health from enemies, and even mind control enemies.

Of course, the weapon developers would need to solve the whole, “insanity” thing that goes along with most plasmids, but that’s probably do-able.

NOW: The 19 most game-changing weapons of the 21st century

OR: The top 5 weapons the US Navy needs right now

MIGHTY CULTURE

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of November 2nd

Halloween on a Wednesday is the worst. Sure, it sucks for the kids who can’t stay out late trick-or-treating, but it’s terrible being stuck in the barracks knowing that you’ve got a PT test in the morning. You can’t drink, you can’t party, you can’t do whatever spooky thing you wanted to do.

Thankfully, the holidays are almost here and there’re plenty of long weekends to make up for it.

Here’re some memes for you to enjoy as you deliberate on how you’re going to blow the rest of your deployment savings during the next 4-day.


These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Coast Guard Memes)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Smokepit Fairytales)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via PNN)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Sapper Zulu)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Shammers United)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme by Ranger Up)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Valhalla Wear)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Decelerate Your Life)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Hooah My Ass Off)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Army as F*ck)

Check out our store!

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Disgruntled Vets)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme via Air Force Nation Humor)

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

(Meme by WATM)

Articles

Senator says the $400 million payment to Iran ‘put a price on the heads of Americans’

Was it ransom? That is the question that is now being asked as a Wall Street Journal report of a $400 million payment to Iran emerges. The money, reportedly Swiss francs and Euros that were provided by European countries, was delivered in pallets of cold, hard cash via unmarked cargo plane as four Americans were released back in January. Three of the Americans were flown out of Iran by the Swiss, while the fourth returned to the United States on his own.


These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Geneva. (Photo: U.S. Mission/Eric Bridiers)

Supposedly, the money was delivered as part of a $1.7 billion settlement surrounding an arms deal made before the fall of the Shah of Iran. Among the big components of that deal were guided-missile destroyers and F-16 fighters. The destroyers later were taken into service with the United States Navy as the Kidd-class destroyers, all of whom were named for admirals killed in action during World War II. The timing of that settlement, though, raised questions about whether the settlement was cover for a ransom payment. Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, told The Wall Street Journal, “This break with longstanding U.S. policy put a price on the head of Americans, and has led Iran to continue its illegal seizures.”

Cotton’s comments were echoed by Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who served for over two decades in the Naval Reserve. “Paying ransom to kidnappers puts Americans even more at risk. While Americans were relieved by Iran’s overdue release of illegally imprisoned American hostages, the White House’s policy of appeasement has led Iran to illegally seize more American hostages, including Siamak Namazi, his father Baquer Namazi, and Reza Shahini,” he said.

The senators’ comments seem to be backed by comments on Iranian state media by a high-ranking commander of the Basij, an Iranian militia force, who was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “Taking this much money back was in return for the release of the American spies.”

Since the first payment in January, the three Americans mentioned in Senator Kirk’s statement have reportedly been seized by the Khameni regime, leading some to speculate as to whether or not Iran is seeking leverage to force the release of other frozen assets. One portion of those assets, $2 billion frozen in 2009, was awarded to the victims of Iranian-sponsored attacks in a case that was finally resolved by the Supreme Court.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

War in space will probably be really boring

Ever since President Trump first announced his intentions to establish a new branch of the American Armed Forces dedicated specifically to space and orbital defense, imaginations have run wild with what this new era of conflict miles above our heads might look like. Decades worth of movies and video games have shaped our idea of war among the stars, and it’s hard not to let our imaginations run a bit wild when the concept of zero-G warfighting is suddenly so real that our lawmakers are actually budgeting for it.


The thing is, our ideas of space warfare and the reality of conflict in space are pretty far off from one another… at least for now. America’s near-peer opponents in China and Russia have both already stood accused by the international community of launching weapons systems into orbit, but these aren’t Decepticons equipped with doomsday lasers and vessels full of jet-pack laden Space Marines. Warfare in space doesn’t take nearly that much effort or panache. In fact, in some cases, an act of war would require little more than a nudge. In practice, there’s very little difference between the sorts of tools being developed to capture and destroy space junk and weapons being designed to capture and destroy satellites.

Space harpoon skewers ‘orbital debris’

youtu.be

The truth is, America’s massive orbital infrastructure was largely deployed in an era with no serious competitors on the horizon. That means many of the satellites we rely on for communications, navigation, and defense lack any real means of defending themselves from attack or even moving out of the way of many kinds of danger. Departing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson aptly described it by saying the United States had built “a glass house before the invention of stones.” Like a glass house, our satellite infrastructure is incredibly vulnerable, and now America’s opponents have already begun throwing stones.

The 1967 Outer Space Treaty outlines what its framers hoped would be the path to peaceful coexistence in orbit and beyond, but the language of the treaty allows for a great deal of latitude when it comes to orbital weapons. China, Russia, and the United States are all among the signatory members of the treaty, alongside a long list of others. Article IV of the treaty bans any signatory nation from deploying nuclear weapons (or other weapons of mass destruction) in orbit, and while other portions of the treaty also attempt to dissuade a real-life remake of Star Wars, the treaty itself bars little else when it comes to weapons.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped nations like Russia from referencing the 1967 Outer Space Treaty when accusing the United States of violating international norms during ongoing debates about the future of American space defense. This bit of tomfoolery notwithstanding, America, Russia, and China do want to appear as though they’re honoring the intent of this treaty, and as a result, orbital weapons often come in the guise of something else entirely. Russia’s Inspector satellites, for instance, are believed to have been designed specifically for use as a weaponized platform that can both eavesdrop on nearby satellite communications and directly interact with other orbital platforms.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

Ground based lasers may soon be able to blind satellites temporarily, wreaking havoc with communications, navigation, and early warning systems.

(USAF Photo)

All an Inspector satellite would need to do in order to poke a hole in America’s defensive infrastructure is grab an American satellite with a retractable arm and pull it down into a degrading orbit. Eventually, the Russian satellite would just let go and watch its target burn up as it enters the atmosphere. The entire process would be fairly slow and even mundane to look at, but without any form of defense in orbit, there would be nothing U.S. Space Command could do but watch until the satellite went dark.

Similar methods to the same end would include deploying nets to capture enemy satellites or even simply giving them a push. Depending on the age and capability of the satellite, that could really be all it took to take it out of commission. In extreme cases, like the satellites the U.S. relies on to identify nuclear ballistic missile launches, simply incapacitating a satellite for a few minutes (by pushing it off its axis, for instance) could neuter the nation’s ability to spot or intercept inbound nukes. China has already demonstrated the theoretical ability to do exactly that using ground-based lasers that are invisible to the naked eye.

There are a number of strategies already being developed to counter this form of orbital warfare, like developing a fast-launch infrastructure to replace damaged satellites rapidly and deploying more maneuverable and capable platforms that aren’t as susceptible to these simplistic forms of attack… but for the next few decades, that’s the reality of our space wars: simple satellite drones nudging, poking, and maybe shooting at one another while we watch from below with bated breath.

MIGHTY TRENDING

US ‘mini carrier groups’ could change how Navy, Marines operate

US Marines are not only experimenting with a new aircraft-carrier concept, but they are also taking a fresh look at forming “mini” carrier strike groups to fill in when the carriers are called away.

The capable fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters are changing the way the service’s big amphibious assault ships — the centerpieces of the “gator navy” — go to war.

The Marine Corps is aggressively pushing ahead with the experimental “Lightning-carrier” concept, which involves arming the large flattops with a literal boatload of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters to turn the traditional troop-transport ships into light carriers capable of boosting the overall firepower of the US carrier force.


These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

The USS Essex sails alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg)

At the same time, the service and the US Navy are looking at making changes to amphibious readiness groups (ARGs), transforming them into miniature carrier strike groups (CSGs). An ARG typically consists of an amphibious assault ship, an amphibious transport dock, a landing-dock ship, and a contingent of Marine expeditionary forces.

“We’re definitely changing the way amphibs are employed, especially on the blue side — we’re no longer just the trucks that carry Marines that we used to be,” Lt. Cmdr. David Mahoney, the Amphibious Squadron 1 operations officer, said, according to a USNI News report on April 16, 2019.

The amphibious assault ship USS Essex, the lead capital ship for the Essex ARG, sailed into the Persian Gulf in fall 2018 as the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier and its escort ships, which were initially expected to deploy to the Middle East, sailed into the north Atlantic in support of NATO.

“There was no carrier in 5th Fleet, so a lot of the CSG-like duties we started taking over just because we had to,” Mahoney said. “The ARG is now becoming almost like a mini CSG.”

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

F-35B Lightning II on the USS Essex.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Freeman)

“You can see that layered defense,” he said, pointing to the ARGs cooperation with destroyers and other warships and the increased capability provided by the multi-mission F-35s with advanced stealth and a powerful sensor suite. “This is what has to happen as the carriers are being sometimes sent elsewhere because the needs are rising elsewhere.”

The ARGs, especially in this time of a renewed great-power competition, are “definitely in high demand to fill those [CSG] roles as the Navy is spreading out further and further around the globe.”

Marine Corps F-35Bs, which are short-take-off vertical-landing aircraft built for operations aboard amphibious assault ships, flew into combat for the first time during the Essex ARG’s deployment. Amphibious assault ships lack the catapults and arresting wires used on aircraft carriers, and support only these jump jets and helicopters.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

F-35B Lightning II takes off from the USS Essex.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Francisco J. Diaz Jr.)

In February 2019, the F-35B achieved another first as fighters aboard the USS Wasp and carried out simulated strikes in “beast mode” — meaning it was operating with an external ordnance loadout — in the Pacific.

Recently, the Wasp sailed into the South China Sea with an unusually heavy configuration of at least 10 stealth fighters, significantly more than normal, for joint drills with the Philippines. During the Balikatan exercises, the ship was spotted running flight operations near the disputed Scarborough Shoal as part of the light-carrier experiment.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

The USS Wasp in the South China Sea.

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Barker)

At the heart of the new “mini” CSGs is the “Lightning carrier,” an amphibious assault ship loaded up with as many as 20 F-35s for carrierlike operations. This concept, which the Marines began experimenting with in 2016, is a rebranded version of the “Harrier-carrier” concept, an earlier variation with AV-8 Harrier jump jets that served the military well for decades.

“While the amphibious assault ship will never replace the aircraft carrier,” the Marine Corps said in a 2017 report, “it can be complementary if employed in imaginative ways.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

Articles

This is what happens when Kim Jong Un gets blackout drunk

Watch out, Wolfpack! Kim Jong Un has decided that he wants to join that wild “Hangover” bunch of partiers portrayed by Ed Helms, Bradley Cooper, Justin Bartha and Zach Galifianakis.


Or maybe the North Korean dictator is trying to get a cameo in “Hangover IV.”

According to a report by FoxNews.com, the North Korean dictator once got blackout drunk while meeting with top military leaders. During that meeting, he went on a rant about their failure to produce a successful “military satellite” – a phrase often taken to mean an intercontinental ballistic missile.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
A graphic showing the range of the North Korean rocket launched on February 7, 2016. | Courtesy of The Heritage Foundation

“Not being able to develop one military satellite is the same as committing treason,” the Korea Times reported Kim ranted during an all-night ragefest directed at his military leaders — just before ordering them to write letters of apology and self-criticism.

At some point after giving those orders, the dictator went to bed, feeling the effects of a reported overindulgence of “spirits.”

The next morning, when he awoke after having slept it off, he was stunned to see the military chiefs at his villa. He’d drunk enough to black out and forget his tirade of the previous night – much as the protagonists of the “Hangover” trilogy had.

“Why are you gathered here?” the North Korean dictator asked according to the FoxNews.com, adding: “Be careful about your health because you are all old.”

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
(North Korea state Media)

The greeting prompted the assembled generals to sob with relief, leading Kim to think he had touched them with his kindness.

An anonymous North Korean source told the Tokyo Shimbun, “They were relieved because they thought they were going to be purged.”

The Tokyo Shimbun’s source added, “Everyone is showing loyalty out of fear of being executed and no one dares speak against Kim.”

The North Korean dictator was portrayed in the 2014 comedy movie “The Interview,” which starred James Franco and Seth Rogen.

In 2004, Kim Jong Un’s father, Kim Jong Il, was a featured character in “Team America: World Police,” a marionette movie done by the producers of the hit TV series “South Park.”

MIGHTY HISTORY

How attacking Israel on a holiday backfired and turned into a rout

Arab armies have never had good luck fighting Israel. Israeli independence should have been a long shot in the first place, but they were just too good for the neighboring Arab countries. In 1967, when Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran, a move Israel flat-out told Egypt would cause a war, Egypt was ready for Israel – on paper, anyway. That war lasted six days. Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq together could not bring the IDF down.

But in 1973, they were going to try again and this time, it was going to be a surprise.


These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

Even though the Egyptians experienced initial successes, the real surprise would be getting their asses handed to them.

Israel was largely unprepared for two-pronged invasion through the Sinai from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria for many reasons. Israeli intelligence knew about troop build-ups but wrote them off as training maneuvers. It was the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, after all. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir ignored a warning from King Hussein of Jordan, the IDF ignored the fact that Soviet advisors left Egypt and Syria with their families, so when Yom Kippur, the holiest day for the Jewish religion, came around, the Israelis let their guard down.

That’s when the Arabs attacked.

Some 100,000 Egyptian troops crossed the Suez Canal with 1,300 tanks and 2,000 artillery guns, all protected by an umbrella of surface-to-air missile batteries to keep the Israeli Air Force – the reason the Arabs lost the Six-Day War – at bay. Facing the Egyptians were only 290 Israeli tanks housed in a scattering of fortresses along the canal, inadequate defenses to hold the Peninsula. Luckily for Israel, the Egyptians seemed to slow down when they approached the end of the SAM batteries’ range. This lull would prove critical to the Arab defeat.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

The Israelis at first concentrated on the Syrian invasion, considering it posed a much more vital threat to Israeli heartland, while the fighting with Egypt remained largely in the Sinai Peninsula. Once the Syrians were forced back and were on the defensive, the IDF was able to turn its attention to the Egyptian invaders. The Egyptians had just attempted to advance beyond their SAM shield by throwing a thousand tanks at reinforced Israeli defenses. Its losses were mounting and the time was right for a counterattack. It turns out the surprise that had allowed for Egypt’s initial successes was also the reason for its eventual defeat.

With so many Israelis at home for the holiday, the roads were remarkably clear, making it so much easier for Israeli reserves to activate and get to where they needed to be. After detecting a gap in the Egyptian lines, the Israelis planned their counterattack. Once the Israeli reserve forces were in place, they waited for a way to reduce Egypt’s armor strength before pouring through the gap and invading Egypt across the Suez. When Egypt threw its armor at Israeli defenses, that gave the IDF the chance it needed.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

Israeli tanks crossing the Suez in a surprise move of their own.

Commandos and tanks started striking surface radar and SAM sites, allowing the Israeli Air Force to operate with greater impunity. Instead of standing their ground, the Egyptians withdrew their SAM batteries, leaving their forces defenseless from the air. Israeli troops began to flow across the Suez Canal, hitting artillery positions, defensive fortifications, and even driving on major cities. The IDF advanced within 100 kilometers of Cairo before a UN-imposed cease-fire took effect, occupying 1,600 square kilometers of Egypt’s territory, and no defenses standing between the IDF and the Egyptian capital.

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Third Army was completely cut off from resupply and surrounded, surely to be annihilated if the fighting continued. The Arab armies were humiliated by Israel once again, in just two short weeks. This time, however, would be the last time. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter successfully negotiated an end to hostilities between Egypt and Israel, an accord that has never been broken and may not ever have happened without the surprise defeat of Egypt in 1973.

Articles

How Magpul dominated the world of US military rifle magazines

The US Air Force used the results from a 2015 US Army test of commercial magazines to make its decision to replace Army magazines with Magpul’s Gen 3 PMAG, according to Air Force officials.


The Air Force put out guidance in July that all government-issued M16/M4 magazines – including the Army’s new Enhanced Performance Magazine – will be replaced by the Magpul PMAG. The announcement occurred in the “USAF AUTHORIZED SMALL ARMS and LIGHT WEAPONS ACCESSORIES (as of 28 July 17).”

Military.com asked the Air Force how it came to the decision to choose the PMAG, and it sent the following response:

“When pursuing any capability based requirement, and before conducting any tests, the Air Force will first work closely with our joint partners to see if they have conducted any testing,” said Vicki Stein, a spokeswoman for Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check

“In this instance, we utilized the US Army Aberdeen Test Center’s M855A1 Conformance Testing on Commercial Magazines to make our decision.”

Military.com contacted Program Executive Office Soldier for comment on this but has not received a response yet.

In May, the Army announced it was planning to evaluate how well the service’s M4 and M4A1 carbines perform using a polymer magazine as part of a Solder Enhancement Program project that was approved in February, according to Army weapons officials at the NDIA’s Armaments Systems Forum.

What is interesting is that the Army test report on commercial magazines that the Air Force used to make its decision is dated Jan. 2015, according to Stein. US Army TACOM didn’t unveil its new Enhanced Performance Magazine until 2016.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
A polymer-based magazine. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Air Force should be commended for using the Army’s existing test data rather than conducting a redundant test to make its decision.

The question that remains unanswered is why didn’t the Army come to the same conclusion as the Air Force and choose the PMAG when it appears that the service’s own test data shows the PMAG as the top performer.

Soldiers have used PMAGs in their weapons in combat for years because of their proven reliability.

Marine Corps Systems Command in December released a message which authorized the PMAG polymer magazine for use in the M27 infantry automatic rifle as well as in M16A4 rifle and M4 carbine.

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
An AKMR with a PMAG. Image from Magpul.

Air Force officials did say that the Army Enhanced Magazine is also still authorized for use.

But the Air Force guidance on magazines states that 1005-01-615-5169 (Black) and 1005-01-659-7086 (Tan) Magpul – Gen 3 Polymer Magazine with window will replace 1005-01-630-9508 through attrition. The 1005-01-630-9508 is the Enhanced Performance Magazine (tan mag w/blue follower) the latest US Army magazine.

The PMAG will also replace 1005-01-561-7200 MAGAZINE, CARTRIDGE (tan follower) and 1005-00-921-5004 MAGAZINE, CARTRIDGE (green follower), the document states.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Watch the Truman strike group depart for the Middle East

The US dispatched the USS Harry S. Truman, a massive Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, to a tour of Middle East on April 11, 2018, as tensions between the US, Russia, and Syria reach a boiling point over a pending US strike.

“The strike group, including aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, USS Normandy (CG-60), several destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28 and German frigate FGS Hessen (F 221), is scheduled to conduct operations in the U.S. Navy’s 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility,” a US Navy statement read.


Though the specifics of the deployment haven’t been revealed, the presence of an aircraft carrier in the US Navy’s 5th and 6th fleets will pose a massive challenge to Russia and Syria.

Rear Adm. Eugene Black said at the ship’s departure, “We’re ready for any mission, anywhere, any time … The president can send us wherever he wants, with whatever mission he’s got, and we’re ready to go.”

These are the new missiles the US Navy wants to keep Russia and China in check
USS Harry S. Truman
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristina Young)

The US previously used navy destroyers when it struck Syria in April 2017. This time, experts expect the strike to be bigger. Russia has threatened to shoot down US missiles and the ships that fire them, but the US has a massive advantage over Russia’s forces, should they try to fight back.

Once the Truman carrier strike group arrives, “the US will be able to clean up the eastern Mediterranean in a conventional fight any day,” Ryan Bohl, a Middle East analyst at the geopolitical consulting firm Stratfor, previously told Business Insider.

Russia, for its part, has not left its navy dormant, and mobilized 11 ships for fear for its safety as the threat of Trump’s strike looms.

The Truman’s strike group should arrive in the region by early May 2018.

In the video below see how the US Navy sailors in Norfolk, Virginia set off the Truman:


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